NSF awards $110 million to bring advanced cyberinfrastructure to nations scientists, engineers August 23, 2016

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $110 million award to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and 18 partner institutions to continue and expand activities undertaken through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

A virtual organization that has become the cornerstone of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure ecosystem, XSEDE, which received initial NSF funding in 2011, accelerates open scientific discovery and broadens participation in advanced computing by lowering the barriers for researchers, engineers and scholars to use and access computing resources. Under the new five-year award, called XSEDE 2.0, the organization will maintain existing services to its large user community and add innovative elements in response to ever-evolving user demands and supporting technologies.

“XSEDE 2.0 will continue to expand access to NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure resources and services available to the science and engineering community across the nation,” said Irene Qualters, director for the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) at NSF. “The nation’s discovery and innovation enterprise requires a dynamic and highly interoperable ecosystem that can anticipate and respond to new instruments, new computing capabilities, new research communities and new expertise. XSEDE 2.0 is a critical human component in NSF’s advanced computing infrastructure strategy, seeking to enable the broad and deep use of computational and data-intensive research to advance knowledge in all fields of study.”

The project aligns with the objectives of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) — a whole-of-government effort that fosters a coordinated federal strategy in high-performance computing (HPC) research and deployment. NSF serves as one of the initiative’s three lead agencies.

XSEDE 2.0 supports NSCI’s goals. These include holistically expanding the capabilities and capacity of a robust and enduring national HPC ecosystem and contributing the educational and workforce development necessary to prepare current and future researchers and technical experts.

Read the full press release here.

NJEDge.Net to Welcome New President and CEO in September August 18, 2016

NJEDge.Net has hired Samuel Conn, Ph.D., as its new president and CEO, effective Sept. 12, 2016, after a long and extensive search. Dr. Conn will take the reins of NJEDge.Net from founder, outgoing president and CEO, George G. Laskaris.

NJEDge.Net, housed at and staffed by New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), is a nonprofit research and education network that fosters and supports the productive use of new and emerging technologies across the academic enterprise. The organization was established in 2000 and today serves more than 60 members that include primarily higher-education institutions, as well as K-12 schools and health-care systems. NJIT  President Joel S. Bloom serves as treasurer on the NJEDge.Net Board of Trustees.

“Since its inception, NJEDge.Net has been a frontrunner in supporting the technology needs of the New Jersey higher-education community,” remarked Steve Rose, chair of the NJEDge.Net Board of Trustees and president of Passaic County Community College. “Dr. Sam Conn is a visionary leader who we are confident can take our organization to the next level in helping New Jersey’s colleges and universities thrive and excel into the future.”

Dr. Conn joins NJEDge.Net from State University of New York Empire State College, where he was executive vice president for finance, administration and information technology, as well as chief information officer. He brings more than 35 years of combined military, professional, industry and academic experience in the field of technology and information systems. He began his work in higher education in 2001 with a focus on information-technology management, administrative and educational technologies, e-learning networks and online program construction and management. His service to academe includes leadership positions in information technology at Regis University, Virginia Tech, Georgia Military College and Southern Polytechnic State University.

Dr. Conn is a member of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and a distinguished member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society in the Computing Sciences. He is widely published in the fields of information systems, educational technology, e-learning networks, cyberlearning, system development methodologies and epistemic-belief research. He holds a BSci in business administration, an MSci in computer information systems and a doctorate in information systems.

Read the full press release here.

Regional network partnership helps Indiana’s Huntington University get connected in Arizona August 18, 2016

It’s not every day that a small, private college opens a satellite location halfway across the country. So, when Indiana’s Huntington University decided to make a bold expansion to the Southwest, they understood they’d need help to ensure its success.

Before opening its new site in Peoria, Arizona, Huntington reached out to local resources for help in getting connected to its home campus through I-Light, Indiana’s research and education network (REN)—resulting in a rare public-private partnership.

“We knew there would be a significant amount of collaboration between our main campus in Indiana and this site in Arizona,” said Adam Skiles, Huntington’s director of information and technology services. “We wanted to make sure we had a good connection between the two.”

The Hoosier state is a mix and match of private colleges and public universities—connected to each other, to the internet, and to Internet2 (the national REN) through I-Light. This web of connectivity, made possible by I-Light’s high-speed fiber optics, enables complex research and collaboration across all of Indiana and beyond.

In a close partnership with Arizona’s state REN, the Sun Corridor Network, and a local carrier,Cox Communications, the team was able to provide Huntington with the missing link: a last-mile connection to Sun Corridor Network’s point of presence, which in turn connects to the I-Light point of presence in Indiana. This not only allows Huntington’s Arizona site to connect to its main Indiana campus—and send vital information back and forth on a secure and dedicated network—but also to the nation’s research and education community as a whole.

The collaboration is unprecedented for both regional networks. “This public-private partnership is solving an emerging business need for university members as locations become more disparate geographically, but still need gigabit connectivity and other research and education network and collaboration resources,” said Michael Sherman, executive director of Sun Corridor Network. By setting a precedent, Sherman sees this partnership lighting the way for similar future projects around the country.

Another major benefit to having this new connection for Huntington is the possibilities it provides for disaster recovery. With plans for a new data center at Huntington’s Arizona site, this connection comes at an opportune time, opening the door for business continuity services in the future.

“The way the research and education community has come together to support Huntington University is inspiring,” said Marianne Chitwood, director of I-Light and GlobalNOC operations. “We’re part of such a great community where vendors, regional networks and members can collaborate to meet the needs of our member base. We look forward to seeing where this partnership will lead us.”

In a way, the research and education networks are just doing their job. The web of connections between states and universities is set up for precisely this opportunity: connecting within states, across the country, and around the world. It bodes well for the future of interstate research collaboration and for future public-private networking partnerships.

Read the press release here.